BYU football gaining momentum with Houston on the horizon

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The Cougars say they are a much better team than when they opened the football season with a disappointing loss on the road against Virginia.

Taysom Hill’s efficiency has drastically improved. The rushing game is averaging 4.9 yards per attempt. Kyle Van Noy has been recognized in a CBS poll as a top eight Heisman candidate. Most importantly, BYU has won three games in a row by an average of 21 points.

“The team is improving in all areas,” said head coach Bronco Mendenhall.

Cody Hoffman catches a pass and makes a move past a Georgia Tech defender. Photo by Sarah Hill.
Cody Hoffman catches a pass and makes a move past a Georgia Tech defender. (Photo by Sarah Hill)

Hill said the offense is nearly running exactly how it ought to be.

“I think we’re getting really close,” he said.

BYU’s rough start to 2013 is in the rea rview mirror as the team heads into a difficult stretch of its schedule, featuring games against Boise State, Wisconsin and Notre Dame.

“We’re gaining momentum and looking forward to our next game,” Mendenhall said.

BYU’s next game is Oct. 19 against the undefeated Houston Cougars. Taking place in Reliant Stadium — home of the NFL’s Houston Texans — the game will feature two teams playing well halfway through the season.

The Houston Cougars are 5-0. Their schedule up to this point has been relatively soft, but they’ve racked up big yardage offensively and are scoring 39.8 points per game. Typical of Houston teams in recent years, this year’s team likes to get it done in the passing game. They pass for 288 yards per game and have thrown 12 touchdown passes.

“They like to throw the ball a lot,” said BYU safety Daniel Sorensen. “It’s going to be a challenge for us.”

If BYU’s “bend, but not break” defense has a weakness this year, it’s defending opponents’ star receivers. Michael Davis of Texas reeled in two touchdowns and 114 yards against BYU, while Utah’s Drez Andersen torched the Cougars for 144 yards. Houston’s go-to guy is sophomore Deontay Greenberry, who has accumulated 606 receiving yards already this season.

Houston also boasts a much-improved defense from prior years. It relies on big plays to stop its foes’ drives. The team has forced 18 turnovers thus far in 2013.

Previously suspended BYU linebacker Spencer Hadley played extensively in the second half against Georgia Tech on Oct. 12. Mendenhall said he hasn’t made a decision about whether or not Hadley will start against Houston. All starters on BYU’s banged-up offensive line are finally healthy and ready to play.

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